Mama never taught me nothin' bout no hair
March 12, 2009 5:36 AM   Subscribe

How do I style my own hair?

I don't know anything about hair. Styling it, anyway. I don't know how to effectively use a single hair product (even hairspray). I don't know the difference between the different types of brushes. I have no idea how to successfully achieve curls that will last or how to flip the ends of my hair. Although I am an attractive female who is very concerned with her appearance, I know NOTHING about styling hair. Just never learned, I guess.

I don't have a specific style I want to ask how to achieve. I'd like a website that will teach me EVERYTHING about hair, from the ground up. I've tried googling this, but there are so many terrible "" webpages that clutter the search results, I'm finding it hard to navigate. Books that will teach me all there is to know about hair would also be great. Thank you so much!
posted by srrh to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (11 answers total) 32 users marked this as a favorite
Some small things I've learned in the past year (I'm 23, and never learned to do my hair either):

-Get a round brush with natural boar bristles.
-Buy quality hair products- they are more expensive by a long shot, but are much easier on your hair, and you have to use far less.
-When you buy a straightener/curling iron, make sure they have a temperature control. Also- CERAMIC.
-Ask your stylist lots of questions.
-Always have a product in your hair before heat-styling, it protects it.
-Don't bottle-dye. If you must dye your hair, spend more and have it done professionally.
posted by sunshinesky at 5:44 AM on March 12, 2009

I don't know anything about hair either, but I do have one tip for you: mousse. Mousse used in conjunction with a good cut means your hair will look styled even though you only put mousse in and combed it.
posted by orange swan at 5:46 AM on March 12, 2009

It would help to know what kind of hairstyle and hair texture you have. We can give more specified advice.

The best thing to do is to get a haircut and ask your stylist how to style it step by step. Tell her you are clueless and she'll show you the way.

Nick Arrojo has a good book on hair. Also, you may learn a lot on YouTube tutorials. There are tons of hairstyling tutorials on YouTube.
posted by Fairchild at 5:56 AM on March 12, 2009

Speaking of straighteners, my fiancee swears by the Sedu hair straightener I bought for her. (I know, I'm SUCH a romantic :-)
posted by Grither at 5:57 AM on March 12, 2009

YouTube. I was recently trying to figure out how to wrestle my bangs into a sideswept style and googling took me to (dishearteningly young) girls doing "how-to" videos on various hairstyles. Might give you some ideas, particularly on products.
posted by kattyann at 6:21 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

The best resource I've found for haircare/styling quandaries is Make-Up Alley's hair care forum. They cover everything from products to techniques. What you may want to do is search the forum's archives at first, looking up specific things (like "lasting curls" or "best brushes for straight hair"), but the members there are - on the whole - very knowledgeable and helpful. It's not an A-Z, but there's a ton of great information to be found on there.

One thing, though - if your hair is super-straight, like mine, flipping the ends out may be really tough to achieve without a hair stylist's help. For long-lasting curls (or waves, really, I can't get full-on curls to stay in my stubborn hair), I use volumizing shampoo & conditioner, towel-dry, hairspray before blow-drying, blow-dry with a paddle brush, use a ceramic 1.25" curling iron to get spiral curls, apply volumizer at the roots, and spray again with a little bit more hairspray (my products are from Aveda's Pure Abundance line). YMMV.
posted by pammeke at 6:29 AM on March 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

If you're a more "visual" learner you might benefit from the huge number of how-to videos on Youtube.

I'm a big fan of SarahVictor's videos - no connection to her, I just find her videos good and she has a lot of tips for hair and makeup.
posted by twiki at 7:59 AM on March 12, 2009

chiming in with youtube tutorials, but mostly just experimenting! I wasn't a girly girl and I didn't have a blessed clue about hair or makeup so when I got to university and wanted to be able to fancy up a bit I was lost. So what I took to doing (and still do sometimes now, just for fun and to try different things) is to on evenings when I have nothing to do, play with my hair, try different styles and techniques and products. Sometimes I would end up looking ridiculous (especially in the beginning) but after a little while I ended up with some really nice looks. Just by playing and experimenting I figured out what my hair can hold and tolerate, what are lost causes, etc.

As for basic tips:
- Check to see if your hairdrier has a 'cool burst' setting, or something similar. Cool setting your hot styled hair can really help lock the style in
- a good ceramic flat iron with variable temperatures is your best friend. It can flatten, curl, flip out, etc. once you get used to it and learn the tricks. (But be sure to use a heat protector so that your hair doesn't get fried!)
- Mouse in wet hair before you start styling is key, and hairspray (used very lightly!!) is only really for finishing once it is dry, smoothing flyaways etc. To me, using hairspray as the primary fixative for a style is a rookie mistake. You want your hair still bouncy and soft, not crunchy and stiff, which is what often happens with hairspray when used incorrectly or in excess.
- Going to a hairstylist and asking them to style your hair in the way you would like to learn and asking them to explain how they are achieving it and how you can do it at home isn't out of the question. Just a style probably only costs ~10-15$ so might be worth the money.
- if you have a friend who seems to know how to do hair really well maybe ask them for some lessons! I did this and learned the fine art of perfect straightening my curly locks from a friend in no time!
- Good brushes are almost always worth the investment.

Good luck, and I'll say it again -- JUST EXPERIMENT IN YOUR OWN TIME! Its fun and it really helps. :)
posted by gwenlister at 8:13 AM on March 12, 2009

Another vote for YouTube videos. Just look around and find the people you like - there's tons out there. If you like 40's, rockabilly-esque styles like I do you might like this girl - she does some good tutorials along those lines.

A lot of the time I'll do these 40's styles at home because they are just fun - and my husband loves them - but they're a little too over the top for me to go do errands or work. However after I take my hair down I have the BEST soft fat curls.
posted by dog food sugar at 9:04 AM on March 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

Maybe ask your hair salon if they'd be willing to offer something like this?
posted by decathecting at 10:39 AM on March 12, 2009

Some of the nicer hair styling products have tutorials on their sites. Bumble and bumble, Nexxus, Tigi, etc. The catch is to look more at the technique/ideas than the products.

On the ultra site they divide hair stuff into the categories of: Hair Spray, Shaping, Shine, Straight, Curls, Frizz. (The last three are really only applicable in certain situations) It's not a terrible way of thinking of the different things the products are supposed to do. You don't need that many products but sometimes it's a bit of experiment to see what works.
posted by ejaned8 at 12:52 PM on March 12, 2009

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